Bill Duke Acting Masterclass: The director doesn’t hire you to act like that person. The director hires you to become that person.
Are the most talented actors the ones who make it in Hollywood? That’s a very intriguing question.
There are some who are so unaware of how this place works.
I believe that or I’ve experienced that if you don’t have an understanding of this industry and the systems of the industry without a stroke of divine intervention it’s difficult to not only be successful, but to survive.
I think that some actors who make it in Hollywood are very talented. There are some of my heroes, the Meryl Streeps of the world, a lot of people that I love their work but I think a lot of it is luck, looks, strategic alliances and relationships, your agent and a lot of business components. So everybody I see as an actor, like [Philip] Seymour Hoffman who died recently…acting takes courage. It’s not about how you look only…Meryl Streep doesn’t care how she looks. She just surrenders to the truth of the character. Not everybody has the ability to do that. They look good and they can pretend to be that person, it’s not the same as being that person. And there are not many actors who will surrender to that.
One of my great acting teachers when I was a very young actor, I asked a similar question. He said I’m going to make it real simple for you. He said it’s like falling into darkness backward. Imagine just falling into darkness backward. No control of your landing or if you’re going to be caught or not. Just falling. And everybody says Well suppose there is a rock back there? Or suppose there’s an…I don’t know…no pillows and just hard floor? The writer is saying to you I want you to fall into darkness backward. I’m giving you all the description, the director and I of who the character is. We’ve had rehearsals and discussions about who this human being is. I do not want you to describe the to me. I want you to become them by falling into darkness backward. Can you do that?
There are all kind of acting techniques and whoever wants to go that way fine. But it’s idiotic for an actor to think that in order to play a meth-head that he has to take crystal meth. It’s like…that’s insanity. Actor’s who can play a crystal meth head talk to crystal meth users and see what they do. But the truth of the matter is once he or she says that what great actors understand is that we are everything so therefore you don’t have to take crystal meth you just surrender to the crystal meth head within you. You see actors who play…they may hate criminals, they may hate whatever as people. But what they realize at one time or another in their lives they have evil, too. And surrendering to that, I mean that is the strength, the glory, the courage of great actors. And we don’t have many of them unfortunately.
I think all of us are everything and people say Well how can you say that? I’ a woman with a child. I’m not a murderer. Okay, suppose somebody just came up and they hit your baby in the head with a hammer? What would you call your response to that if you picked that hammer up? No one is saying you’re a murderer, no one is saying you are anything but you’re everything. And if you’re hired to do a job…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).
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Mandao (Man-Day-Oh) of the Dead is about Jay Mandao and his nephew-in-law Jackson who use astral projection to reverse a ghost’s death on Halloween.
This astral comedy is the second feature film Written and Directed by Scott Dunn and produced by Gina Gomez Dunn. It was filmed in 10 days with a production budget of just $13k. The duo’s first feature film, Schlep won Best Comedy/Dramedy at the Hollywood Boulevard Festival and was nominated in 5 different categories at the FirstGlance Film Festival. Schlep is also available on Amazon. Mandao of the Dead will be released on iTunes and DVD/Blu-ray in January 2019.